Rank of the Sahabah
Ml Mohammad Taha Karaan
14 April 2004
On account of the praises and merits of the Companions of the Holy Prophet [PBUH] appearing in the Qur’ân and the Traditions, the Ahl al-Sunnah unanimously believe that the greatest of the great saints cannot attain the status of the lowest of the low Companions of the Holy Prophet [PBUH]. Mujaddid Alf- Thanî says, “No saint can reach the status of a Companion. Since ‘Uwais Al-Qarnî could not achieve the honour of companionship of the Holy Prophet [PBUH], despite his lofty position as a great saint of Allâh, he could not attain the rank of even an ordinary Sahâbî.” 
There is also an Ijmâ‘ [Consensus of Opinion] of the entire ummah regarding the excellency and piety of the Sahâbah. This ljmâ’ is expressed in the famous principle as-Sahâbatu Kulluhum ‘Adûl [The Sahâbah are all free from all sorts of sinfulness and impiety.]. The Sahâbah are the best among the ummah, all accept this except a few misled groups. Thus the ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jamâ‘ah say, “We do not regard anybody [from the ummah] equal to the Sahâbah. The greatest saint of the latter generations cannot reach the status of the lowest Sahâbî”.
Someone once enquired from ‘Abdullâh ibn Mubârak, “Is Mu‘awiyah superior or ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azîz?” He replied, “Let alone the personality of Mu‘awiyah, even the dust that had entered the nostrils of the horse of Mu‘awiyah while in the company of the Holy Prophet [PBUH] is by far superior to ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azîz .”
The great saint, ‘Abdul Qâdir Jîlanî says, “The ahl al-Sunnah are unanimous that to maintain silence regarding dissents that took place among the Companions is compulsory; and to express and describe their merits and virtues is pertinent.”
‘Allâmah ibn Taymiyyah writes, “It is included among the principles of beliefs of the Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah that they keep their hearts and tongues pure in the matter of the Sahâbah (RA) even as Allah, Most High, has stated in the following verse: Those who entered the city and the faith before them love those…” [109: 09]
‘Allâmah al-Safârînî say, “There is consensus among the Ah al-Sunnah Wa al-ama’ah that it is incumbent on every person that he considers all the Sahâbah as holy and clean and just, safegaurds himself from libelling them and compliments them even as Allâh has complimented and eulogised them in several verses of His Great Book.”
Similarly, ‘Allamâh Jurjânî writes under the Seventh Maqsad in his famous book Sharh al-Mawâqif, “To revere all the Sahâbah and to abstain from taking exception to any one of them is incumbent. Why? Because Allah is Glorious and He has lauded and praised them in many instances of His Holy Book” [He then quotes the relevant Verses and writes] “And the Holy Prophet used to love them and has eulogised them in many of his Traditions.”
lmâm Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, “Doubt the faith and lslam of the person who reviles the Sahâbah.” lmâm Muslim’s teacher, lmâm Abû Zuhr’ah ‘Iraqî said, “The person who speaks ill of the Sahâbah should be regarded as a zindîq [disbeliever] because he is attempting to spoil the ummah’s confidence in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” Imâm Abû Zur‘ah Râzî is also reported to have said a similar thing. People like these should be injured first before they can injure the Qur’ân and the Sunnah.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azîz said, “The Sahâbah were the first among the ummah to lead the way, they are examples for the ummah to [follow] and they were on the straight path.”
After quoting all the staements which portrays the consensus of the ummah on the ‘Adâlat of the Sahâbah, Salâh al-Dîn ‘Alâ’î says that those Sahâbah who only met the Holy Prophet [PBUH] for a little while then again left for their respective home-towns are not included in the above consensus. Likewise also those Sahâbah will also be excluded from whom very little or no Traditions have been reported. Examples of these are Sahâbah like Wa’il ibn Hujr, Mâlik ibn Huwairith and ‘Uthmân ibn Abû al-‘âs [RA]. The majority, however, still include them in the above consesnsus because if they were not present with the Holy Prophet [PBUH] at all times, they were present with at least one or all of the four righteous Caliphs of Islâm- AbûBakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmân or ‘Alî [RA].
Abû ‘Amr says, “The consensus of the Sahâbah and its authority can be established from the following verse of the Qur’ân: “Whoever opposes the Prophet after the guidance has become manifest to him and follows a path opposed to the Believers, we will assign them to what they went after and drag them into the fire.” The Holy Prophet also said, “My people will never unite on wrong,” thus, the consensus of the Sahâbah is legitimate and binding for all generations to come. Just as the Holy Prophet was a proof to the Sahâbah, the Sahâbah will now be a proof for the rest of the generations.”
However, notwithstanding the above sayings regarding the Sahâbah, an important question arises at this stage. If the Sahâbah were not ma‘حûm [infallible] like the Messengers of Allâh, and many a fault or wrong is attributed to them in some way or the other, why then should ill not be spoken of them?. The following reasons are given:
- They enjoy a special privilege over the non-Sahâbah in that they were closely and intimately linked with the rophet of Allâh [PBUH] who is the best among the creations of Allâh. By virtue of this companionship, their life pattern was in total conformity with the teachings of Sharî‘ah, and, hence, sins and acts contrary to the Sharî‘ah were a rarity.
- Their intense love for Allâh and for the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] together with their fear for Allâh made them repent immediately for any sin they may have committed. In fact, they would present themselves to the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] so that he could cleanse them by meting out to them the appropriate punishment. This they did despite knowing fully that according to the Qur’ân and the teachings of the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] that one who repents after committing a sin is like one who had not even committed the sin. The Qur’ân says, “Lo! Good deeds anull evil deeds.”
- Their forbearance in times of hardships, distress, trials and tri bulations and their steadfastness by the side of the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] in the efforts in spreading the Religion of Islâm are inseparable ingredients of their sublime character.
- The Sahâbah are a main link between the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] and his Ummah. This link serves as a means for transmitting the Qur’ân and other teachings of the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] to the Ummah. Any fault-finding in the character of the Sahâbah would result in a substandard transmission of Islâm.
- Since Allâh conferred the honour of His Apostle’s companionship to the Sahâbah, He also conferred the honour of assuredly forgiving them during their life-time.
- The Prophet of Allâh [PBUH] had personally commanded his Ummah to love and revere his Companions. He had said that honouring and revering them is a sign of faith and abusing them is a sign of diminished faith.
- Sometimes Allâh caused sins to emanate from the Sahâbah on purpose in order to practically demonstrate the implementation of the Sharî‘ah and to set a precedent that the carrying out of the punishments should not be avoided and regarded as ‘barbaric’. Thus when they committed theft or adultery [although this was extremely rare], the method of amputation and stoning was shown. Always the announcement of their forgiveness was mentioned by the Prophet of Allâh [PBUH].
In addition to the above reasons, Nawâb Muhsin al-Mulk has produced five more proofs as to the superiority of the Companions over the coming generations. The first three centres around their devotion to the Holy Prophet against all odds- even when hardship could be averted and benefit accrued in opposing the Holy Prophet, yet they preserved in the face of disbelief, paganism, powerlessness and tyranny. If they assiduously stuck to the Holy Prophet in the age of deprivation, pain and misery; how could they desert the cause of Islâm after the Holy Prophet had passed away- when practising Islâm became as easy as embracing it and when the Muslims had almost the entire Arabia at their feet. Indeed, it would a calumny to make a statement like “…..the fundamental of religion were violated at the hands of these very people who had served Islâm for a long time…..” on the part of Murtazâ Murahharî, fully knowing that they had nothing to achieve by cheating the cause of Islâm. Infact, they had more to loose by doing so.
Today, one regards a person who visits the blessed grave of the Holy Prophet as fortunate, what about those people who actually saw the Holy Prophet everyday of their lives. Visiting the graveside of the Holy Prophet invigorates ones faith and strengthens his convictions in Islâm, what about those people who actually saw the Holy Prophet practising Islâm. Would they not have a sense of deep pride and patriotism to never forsake the ways of their Master.
Also, history testifies that Makkah was the birth-place of Islâm and it was in Madînah where it was firmly established. Due to the struggle of the Companions for the sake of Islâm in these two cities, they boast a certain sacredness that no other city boasts in the world. These are the places which bear testimony upto today to the contributions of the Companions and are the most oft-visited cities in the world. Annually, millions of people gather at Makkah and Madînah, a crowd which vastly outnumbers the largest amount of people to have ever gathered at any Olympic sporting event in history. These people gather annually, not once in four years, to commemorate the great origin of Islâm and of all the monotheistic faiths. At the end of time, the Dajjâl [anti-Christ] will enter every town, but these two cities will be guarded from any sort of damage or besmirching or desecration by the Angels. 
If these places are so well guarded against evil influence, I am sure that its citizens are more well-guarded in the sight of Allâh, and Khomeini’s wish of ever conquering Makkah will never materialise.
 As quoted in Elias, A.H, Are the Sahâbah a Criterion of Right and Wrong, Islâmic Publications International, Lenasia, nd, p.15.
 Muqâme Sahâbah of Muftî Muhammad Shafî‘, Grand Muftî of Pakistan as quouted in Karolia, Muhammed, The Rank of the Sahâbah, Madrassah Arbia Islâmiyyah, Azaadville, 1996, page 19.
 ‘Asqalânî, ibn Hajar Shihâb al-Dîn Abû al-Fadl, Al-Isâbah fî Tamyîz al-Sahâbah, Maktabh al-Kulliyyât al-Azhariyyah, Cairo, 1990, v.1, p.10.
 As quoted in Elias, A.H, Are the Sahâbah a Criterion of Right and Wrong, Islâmic Publications International, Lenasia, nd, p.15.
 Ghunyatut Tâlibîn, Delhi, 1978, p 54.
 Sharh al-‘Aqidat al-Wâsitiyyah, Egypt, p 403 and Muqâme Sahâbah, p.79.
 ‘Aqîdah al-Safârînî, Riyadh, Vol. 2 p 338.
 As quoted in Elias, A.H, Are the Sahâbah a Criterion of Right and Wrong, Islâmic Publications International, Lenasia, nd, p.16.
 Born in Baghdad on the first of Rabî‘ al-Awwal 164 AH., he travelled afar to study and is one of Imâm Shâfi‘î’s prize students. His classes in Baghdad attracted thousands of students from all over the world. His opinion on the matter of the Creation of the Qur’ân brought him into conflict with the then Mu‘tazilite ruler and as a result, he was jailed for it. He is responsible for the Hanblî school of thought which is still practiced upto today, although its adherents are not as many in number as the followers of the other three schools of thought. The Imâm passed away at the age of 75 in the month of Rabî‘ al-Awwal 241 AH.
 A Zindîq is a person who acknowledges the Prophethood of the Messenger of Allâh and proclaims and beliefs in the salient features of Islâm, but at the same time adheres to beliefs which are unanimously branded as kufr [disbelief] in the sharî‘ah. The majorrrity of deviated groups fall within this category of disbelief. Other names for Zindîq are Bâtinî and Mulhid. Other categories of disbelief are Munâfiq, Murtad, Kitâbî, Mushrik, Dahriyyah and Mu‘attil. For more information see Kitâb al-îmân, published by The Young Mens Muslim Association, Benoni South, nd, p.77-78.
 Muqâme Sahâbah of Muftî Muhammad Shafî‘, Grand Muftî of Pakistan as quouted in Karolia, Muhammed, The Rank of the Sahâbah, Madrassah Arabia Islâmiyyah, Azaadville, 1996, page 17.
 ‘Asqalânî, ibn Hajar Shihâb al-Dîn Abû al-Fadl, Al-Isâbah fî Tamyîz al-Sahâbah, Maktabh al-Kulliyyât al-Azhariyyah, Cairo, 1990, v.1, p.11.
 Muqâme Sahâbah of Muftî Muhammad Shafî‘, Grand Muftî of Pakistan as quouted in Karolia, Muhammed, The Rank of the Sahâbah, Madrassah Arabia Islâmiyyah, Azaadville, 1996, page 17- on the authority of Abû Dâwûd.
 ‘Asqalânî, ibn Hajar Shihâb al-Dîn Abû al-Fadl, Al-Isâbah fî Tamyîz al-Sahâbah, Maktabh al-Kulliyyât al-Azhariyyah, Cairo, 1990, v.1, p.12.
 Andlusî, ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-‘Ilm wa al-‘Ulamâ’, Idârah Islâmiyyât, Lahore, 1977, p.149.
 Sûrah al-Hûd [The Prophet Hud], v.114.
 Elias, A.H, Are the Sahâbah a Criterion of Right and Wrong, Islâmic Publications International, Lenasia, nd, p.13.
 The Prophet of Allâh only stones Mâ‘iz, the women of the tribe of Ghâmidî and two Jews. It is recorded regarding the women of Ghâmidî that the prophet said regarding her, “ If her repentance were to be distributed amongst the people of Madînah, it would suffich all of them.”. For more information see ‘Awdah, ‘Abd al-Qâdir’s al-Tashrî‘ al-Jinâ’î al-Islâmî, Dâr al-Turâth, Cairo, vol.2, pp.383-386 and Radânqawî, Sayyid ‘Alî’s Hudûd wa Ta‘zîrât wa Qisâs wa Diyat, Idârah Tahqîqât e Islâmî, Islamabad, 1985, pp. 64-68.
 Tehran Times, 25th August, 1982.
 Khân, Nawâb Muثsin al-Mulk, âyât-e-Bayyinât, Dâr al-Ishâ‘at, Karachi, 1979, v.1, pp. 10-17.
 I refer to Khomeinî’s sermon when he said while addressing a youth rally in Irân and which is found on page eight of Abû Rehân Fârûqî’s Khomeinism and Islâm. He said, “The Islâmic and non-Islâmic powers will not admit our power till such time that we establish our hold on Makkah and Madînah, because they are the centres and citadels of Islâm. When, as a conqueror I will enter these places, the first thing I will do is remove the two idols [Abûbakr and ‘Umar] lying by the side of the Prophet’s grave….”